There’s a moment early on in this volume that portends the worst for this series. It involves Lucy Weber, who picked up her father’s hammer at the end of the previous volume to become the new Black Hammer, and how she’s finally remembered everything and is going to tell the cast how they can finally get off the farm. Just as she’s about to start, Lucy is zapped away to parts unknown. This is done in as straight a manner as possible, without any hint of self-awareness on the part of writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dean Ormston that they’ve engaged in the most obvious and aggravating way of prolonging a mystery. If this was how they were going to kick off this latest volume of “Black Hammer,” then what fresh hell awaited me within?
The answer, at first, is more DC-centric navel-gazing. More specifically, it’s DC/Vertigo-centric navel-gazing as Lucy finds herself in the Anteroom a run-down bar that’s a part of some kind of house of mystery. Or secrets. She encounters a smart-aleck chain-smoking bartender, the Devil himself, a dead man, and “The Storyman” and his family. It’s a constant stream of “Hey, ‘member this?” rather than an actual story as Lucy tries to find her way back to the farm. Things aren’t much better there as everyone is either spinning their wheels trying to make sense of what happened to Lucy, or dealing with the bizarre turns of good fortune they’ve encountered in their love lives.
What saves this volume, and me from chucking it and its spinoffs into my “to sell” pile, is that the creators eventually move past all this before the end. In fact, we actually get some genuine revelations regarding the true nature of the farm and what really happened to the missing heroes of Star City. These revelations imply bad things are in store for the world of “Black Hammer” and a final reckoning as well. It’s enough to get me to come back and see how it all ends in the next, and last, volume of the series.